Welcome to Magic Arcanum. I’m Ryan Gomez, behind the camera is Nicole
Letson, and we’re so glad you’re here, because it’s Story Time! Alright, I must be honest with you. This episode was completed weeks ago but before
we could publish it, Wizards of the Coast threw us a curveball and, well, here we are. Slivers had not been seen in like, five years,
and our original script ended with me speculating on their return but it just so happens they
are in Modern Horizons, so it was worth redoing the video to work that in. Now, just like when we did the Eldrazi video,
I must start this one by pointing out even though Slivers are a fascinating creature
type and one of the more interesting bits of Magic’s history, they haven’t been
a part of any actual story for a while, even with these new cards. Despite this, they’ve been a highly requested
topic here on Magic Arcanum, and as luck would have it, I recently lost a bet to my friend
Aimee and I specifically owe her an explanation on What Are Slivers. So. This one’s for you Aimee. Here we go. I do want to make one thing clear though. Slivers come from a long time ago, back when
the storytelling in Magic wasn’t all that great, so forgive me in advance if some facts
end up distorted or…uh…I’ll say embellished from memory. If you’re new enough to Magic that you’ve
never seen a sliver before, first of all: welcome! Second, you should know that slivers are a
group of creatures that have at least two distinct looks. For most people, when I say sliver, they picture
something like this guy. This is Horned Sliver, from Tempest, the first
set in which they appeared, way back in 1997! I’m using this as my example because the
art is pretty clear and we get a good sense of what these creatures look like, at least
at this time in their history. He’s got this sort of diamond shaped head
with horns that point back, and then a long slender body that splits into two whip-looking
tails. He’s only got one arm, and it ends in a
sharp, almost needle-like talon. So that’s your average garden variety sliver,
and it would be pretty unremarkable even as far as Magic creatures go, were it not for
that line of text that says “All slivers gain trample.” Now, newer editions of the card use updated
templating and actually say “All Sliver creatures HAVE trample,” but the idea is
the same. You see, slivers share a hive mind, and so
any abilities one has can be shared with others nearby. This also can extend to your opponent’s
slivers, should they have any on the battlefield. Meaning, Horned Sliver here has trample himself,
and gives it to every other sliver on your team, but also every sliver your opponent
plays. Tempest gave us ten such slivers that would
share their abilities with one another, plus an artifact sliver that had no abilities of
its own but could pick up anything its siblings offered. That artifact one is worth a closer look because
its flavor text mentions Volrath, and that’s where our story behind the slivers will begin. Volrath was a bad guy – THE bad guy, I guess,
for most of what we call the Weatherlight Saga. You guys remember seeing Weatherlight in Dominaria
recently? Ok well that ship has been around a long,
long time, and its old crew got to know Volrath pretty well back in the day. We’re not focusing on that though – we just
need Volrath, because he’s the one who finds slivers on an unnamed plane and brings them
home with him to a place called Rath. Back then, you didn’t have to be a planeswalker
necessarily to move between planes, and Volrath wasn’t a planeswalker, but he was a shapeshifter. He was fascinated by the slivers, because
they would adapt and change as they learned new abilities, so he wanted to study them,
and then use them as weapons against the Weatherlight and her crew. Rath existed in a pocket plane, adjacent to
Dominaria. The Phyrexians were going to use it as a staging
ground for their army and eventually invade Dominaria once Rath grew to be big enough
but you know what? That’s going to be another whole video,
probably the next time I lose a bet. Anyway, Rath became the transplanted home
of the Sliver Queen. Volrath created Metallic Slivers to try and
spy on her brood, and he eventually learned enough to start performing his own experiments
on them. What he achieved with these experiments, nobody
is really sure. The next time we saw slivers was Stronghold,
and they behaved the same and even looked the same, aside from now being multicolored. Volrath used the Sliver Queen to guard something
called The Legacy, which was a collection of artifacts Karn was keen on collecting. Note that Karn wasn’t a planeswalker at
this point, but this gives you some idea of how long he’s been around and part of the
Magic stories. Karn ends up convincing the Sliver Queen that
he needs these artifacts the same way she needs her own sliver children, so she gives
them over and that’s the last we see of the slivers for about five years, our time. I say our time because in the game, the story
actually advances one hundred years. By this point, the slivers are all dead thanks
to an event called the Rathi Overlay and a bunch of battles that play out in the Invasion
block, but that’s more about the Phyrexians and like I said, they’ll get their own video
some day. So, it’s 100 years later, and some scientists
working under something called the Riptide Project find a sliver fossil and decide to
bring it back to life for further study. Obviously these guys have not seen Jurassic
Park. Riptide Replicator, from Onslaught, shows
what happens when you get so preoccupied with what you can do that you forget to ask yourself
what you should do. Their little island lab quickly became overrun
by slivers since these Riptide scientists did not understand the importance of having
a sliver queen to keep the brood under control. Team Riptide pretty much all gets killed and
the slivers make their way onto the main land. I want to pause here for a moment to pour
one out for Riptide Chronologist, because my own brother believes this is my Magic doppelganger. Thanks, Keith. Without a queen to follow, the slivers instead
were drawn to the energy waves coming from the Mirari, an immensely powerful artifact
that happened to be present at that time. Magic really loves its immensely powerful
artifacts. The Mirari also has connections to Karn, so
he’s still around and kicking but that’s a thread to tug on another time. The slivers grow at an accelerated rate under
the influence of The Mirari but they don’t get to put much of that newfound power to
use before they once again get nearly wiped out by a giant war. Magic really loves its giant wars. Anyway, there is this magical explosion, someone
named Karona shows up, there’s…I dunno, glitter everywhere…and most of the slivers
are dead. The ones who survived merge together into
the Sliver Overlord. As I understand it, this was originally going
to be a sort of Sliver King, to go along side the Sliver Queen, who had become really popular
among casual players. However, a sliver king wouldn’t really fit
with the established lore and frankly the slivers were probably tired of living under
an oppressive monarchy, so we get an overlord instead. The Slivers then take another break from showing
up in sets, this time lasting about 3 years, before their return in the block that already
had everything else going for it, so why not add slivers? Time Spiral, Planar Chaos, and Future Sight
gave us like 40 more sliver cards total, which is too many to put on screen but make sure
you hit the link beneath his video which will take you to a TCGplayer page that has all
the cards from this era. I do want to call out a few interesting ones
though. The Hivestone is an artifact that makes all
creatures you control into slivers, and it tells us that it was used back on Rath when
the slivers were first imported to help keep them under control. I’m not sure how turning everything in your
army into a sliver is supposed to represent keeping them under control, but maybe Volrath
knew something I don’t. We also get Venser’s Sliver, which is another
artifact, and thus artificial sliver designed to help study the real ones. This kind of reminds me of the saying “those
who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it.” Every time the slivers show up in Magic, somebody
is trying to study them, control them, or worse, weaponize them. And every time, it ends badly, for the slivers! …maybe Huatli should go around the multiverse
giving out free copies of Jurassic Park? Seems on brand for her, ya know? Anyway. Last card I want to highlight here is Sliver
Legion, yet another five-colored legendary creature you can use to helm your sliver commander
deck. By the end of this video you’ll have more
Sliver Commander choices than I have reasonable Gorgon Commander choices and I’m not bitter
about it at all, why do you ask? The Legion’s flavor text foreshadows an
important development in the biology of the sliver hive. The slivers are on their way towards no longer
needing a queen or any sort of central leadership to organize their hive mind. And, if each sliver achieved its own form
of awareness and independent thought, they could evolve in all sorts of interesting new
ways! So how did Magic decide to reward loyal sliver
fans who patiently waited for this storyline to play out? Well, after six long years, Slivers finally
returned in Magic 2014, a core set of all places. They had indeed gone through some changes,
but I think for the most part, it wasn’t what fans expected. Check it out. Here’s Groundshaker Sliver, an updated take
on our old friend, Horned Sliver. I’m sure Rhystic Studies would have a more
elegant way of explaining the visual differences, but I majored in communications and not art,
so I’ll just say this: WHAT. THE. Okaaaaay. Ryan had to take a minute to calm down. He’s a bit tied up. I think they look kinda cool. Anyway, here’s Ryan! Sorry about that. ANYWAY. Aesthetics aside, check out what else is different. These new slivers don’t even behave like
the old ones. Notice how they say “slivers YOU control.” One of the most fun and memorable parts of
slivers was how they’d snowball into wacky combinations you’d never expect, thanks
to your opponent’s slivers feeding your own, and visa versa. Or, you could punish your opponent by playing
Plague Sliver, or just use the artifact slivers to soak up abilities without giving your opponent
any. This interactive gameplay came at a cost,
however. In design terms, the old slivers were responsible
for a lot of “on-board complexity” because you had to continually check and recheck what
exactly all your slivers could do at any given moment, not to mention your opponents, if
they had any. By retooling the slivers to only care about
your own side of the battlefield, they became much easier to track, especially during things
like draft, or say maybe, the prerelease for a Core Set, because those are aimed at newer
players, especially. We got one more injection of slivers a year
later, with Magic 2015, again being a core set. A fourth five-color legendary sliver, the
hivelord, now gives you another commander option, while the rare Sliver Hive land teased
a potential return to their original look. And now, after another five year gap, the
slivers return in Modern Horizons. They’re back to their old aesthetic, but
still only affect fellow slivers you control. …why do they do this to me, I don’t even… These new, well, Modern, slivers are mostly
focused in red and white, but each color gets at least one, and more importantly, Commander
players have yet another option for their deck, which I guess is fair since the older
ones are getting hard to find. Unfortunately, Modern Horizons doesn’t have
any story tied to it, so we’re no closer to knowing where slivers originally came from,
or what created this first one. Perhaps someday the mystery will be solved,
but will it take another five years? And what do you think will slivers look like
when we see them again? Let me know in the comments, and then like
this video and subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss the great stories you’ll
only find here on Magic Arcanum. I’ll see ya!